Whether you desire a romantic weekend road trip or just a random cultural jaunt, the Brandywine Valley has much to offer the occasional shunpiker. Just minutes from Philadelphia, the Trail winds through scenic countryside, offering a wide variety of local wines. Quaint bed and breakfast establishments and must-see art galleries make the area an idyllic weekend destination.
In 2003, six small wineries in southeastern Pennsylvania joined together to form the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail. The Trail has now expanded to eight wineries all within 50 miles of each other. Each winery offers tastings and is open year round. The Trail offers a passport for $25, which is good for various discounts at the participating wineries and allows members to participate in exclusive annual events.
The Trail begins at Penns Woods Winery, just off of Route 202 north of I-95. Penns Woods offers some of the most complex wines on the Trail. Penns Woods is currently seeking a name for its “no name” wine and the lucky, inventive connoisseur who names this unique, brilliantly colored wine will win a case to take home.
Meandering north on 202 and then east on Route 1 will bring you to the Brandywine River Museum.The museum, a 19th century gristmill, features American art and a collection of works by three generations of local artists, the Wyeths. N.C. Wyeth came to the Brandywine Valley in 1902 and within a decade was one the nation’s foremost illustrators. His children and grandchildren inherited his artistic gift and love of the Brandywine Valley.
Just a bit further west on Route 1, is Chaddsford Winery, one of Pennsylvania’s most acclaimed wineries. They offer tours and tastings every day of the year except major holidays. On Fridays and Saturdays, they offer “technical” tours for those who want an in depth look at how wine is made.
The Longwood Gardens, west of Chaddsford Winery, claim twenty outdoor gardens and twenty indoor gardens within four acres of conservatories. With 11,000 species of plants and many fountains, it is a sight to see!
The historic bourough of Kennett Square is a fine place to get off the road for a night or two. Known as the mushroom capitol of the world, it also boasts a historic shopping district with unique boutiques and eateries. Nestled in its neighborhoods are Victorian-style bed and breakfast establishments, like the Bancroft Manor Bed and Breakfast, the Kennett House Bed and Breakfast, and the Stebbins-Swayne House Bed and Breakfast.
Continuing west on Route 1, a slight southern detour will find you at Kreutz Creek Vineyards. It is a quaint little winery whose grapes grow on jazz, considering the many live music events held at the vineyard. The real fun is at their tasting room in West Chester, though, where BYOF – “bring your own food” is the rule. They have live music there every week and even your pets are welcome!
Heading north up Route 41, you can hit the Twin Brook Winery and maybe a side trip into Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Twin Brook houses state-of-the-art wine-making facilities in a restored 19th century barn and offers tours, outdoor concerts and various art shows throughout the year.
Once you hit Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, you have to make a choice. Go west, and you head into Pennsylvania Dutch Country, a charming frolic into days gone by. Or, turn east, and hit a few more wineries on the Brandywine Trail. The Black Walnut Winery offers whimsically named French varietal wines created by a group of friends in a renovated 200-year-old bank barn. The Stargazers Vineyard, only open on weekends, features sustainable grape growing practices that they are happy to explain to guests. The vineyard is near “Stargazer Stone,” marking the location of the observatory Mason and Dixon used to survey the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Other fun excursions in the area include West Chester, a lively college town with fun shops and lively restaurants. Just a bit north of the Brandywine Valley is Valley Forge, where Washington and the Continental Army camped over-winter during the American Revolution. With so much to see and do and drive, the Brandywine Valley will definitely be a repeat destination! Willamette Valley wine tours